When ‘Out of Office’ becomes your office

You can call it virtual, remote, distributed, telecommute or OOO, but make no mistake about it, working outside of the office still means working. And it’s becoming more the rule than the exception.

Part-time, full-time, temporary, contract, seasonal and flex, “remote job listings increased 11 percent from 2015 to 2016, and 52 percent in the last two years,” according to online listing juggernaut FlexJobs.

With more and more companies either offering or expanding remote work options, it’s important to know where your personal work style lands on the opportunity spectrum.


Having worked for morning and afternoon papers, startups, shutdowns and everything in between online since 1996, time and experience have trained me to work from any location at any time.

Today, for example, this luxurious cardiovascular ICU waiting area is my office while a loved one is in surgery.

It’s no Starbucks, but with a place to sit and a port to power-up, I really don’t need much more.

My job is not a remote position, but I am grateful that I can take my work with me and stay connected to my team on days like today, when Out Of Office must become my office.

But that’s me.

Telecommuting — occasionally or permanently — simply isn’t for everyone — or every occupation.

If you thrive on the office vibe, telecommuting probably isn’t your bag.

If you’re easily distracted by the close proximity of a television, refrigerator or backyard, working from home likely won’t work for you.

If you’re a surgeon, automotive technician, professional bowler or beautician, you already know you have to head to the office to handle all tasks at hand.

But if alternative options are available to you, it’s important to note that ‘virtual’ success in any capacity is more directly linked to your individual disposition (can you handle it, which we’ve covered) and your company culture (can they handle it, which we’re getting to) than to any other factors — outside of your employer forbidding it outright, that is.

Because telecommuting doesn’t simply mean getting the job done. It also means not overdoing it.

Remote workforce management expert UniqueIQ reminds us that telecommuters are more likely to experience burnout because “ no supervision and no time spent commuting, chatting with colleagues or even having lunch” means all that’s left is work — and then some.

Scott Hanselman has blogged about a multitude of topics, including his experiences as a virtual Microsoft team member. He has posited that people who work remotely are more likely to overwork themselves out of guilt because the traditional assumption is that distributed workers waste time and don’t put in a solid 40.

And, his assumption was borne out in Scott Berkun’s book ‘The Year Without Pants: Wordpress.com and The Future of Work’, in which Berkun explained that such beliefs are more closely tied to company culture than productivity data.

::: Read the book. Just do it. On the fence about it? Get off. Still not sure? Kira Newman’s five-minute review will persuade you. You’re welcome. :::

At a time when almost half of us are logged on long after we’ve left the office (according to a 2016 Gallup poll), the perception point is a powerful one.

If you’ve ever seen someone explain that a colleague is working from home using air quotes, you know.

If you’ve ever heard anyone raise their voice two decibels to inquire a coworker’s whereabouts (knowing they’re working remote), you know.

These are examples of behaviors borne of and tolerated by environments unfriendly to alternative work options.

Working ‘remote’ isn’t for everyone, every business or every occupation. But it is becoming an option available to more and more people, businesses and occupations. And, while every work situation has its pros and cons, I have found (and research bears me out ;) that working to make such solutions acceptable, as well as accessible, is generally a work win for everyone involved.

And who doesn’t love #winning?!

Republished from LinkedIn